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I visited the Bristol Museum and art Gallery in March 2012. It houses a wide and diverse range of objects from dinosaurs to the latest Banksy Paint Pot Angel. There are a total of 20 rooms/galleries over the buildings three floors, each room has a theme, such as the Egyptian room, which houses mummies, artefacts and a history of life in Egyptian times. There is also an impressive collection of stuffed animals such as a tiger, Dodo, and other birds. The whole building is child friendly; I had my two year old with me and he enjoyed looking at all the animals. Most of the exhibits have an education area, in the dinosaur area there were books and model dinosaurs that the children could play with, in the Egyptian room there were a number of computers that you could access to find out further information. All of the collections are very informative, there is an interesting Eastern art section, with pots and statues and such like. There is also an exhibition of the history of Bristol, including old maps and geology and a section on minerals including the Bristol Diamond. The museum has a number of exhibitions over the year so it's worth checking out their website to see if there is anything that looks interesting, as well as its fixed exhibits.
The museum itself is located within the town centre, approximately 10 minutes walk from the top of the Christmas Steps, on Queen's Road next to the Wills University Building. The building has facilities that include a small shop, toilets, a café and an under 7's play area. This was more like an under 5's play area, it had dressing up costumes, soft play cushions, a microphone, and lots of soft animals and books to keep little ones amused for a while. It was secure, adults were allowed in and were expected to stay and supervise their children.
We spent a few hours in the museum looking at all it had to offer and for free (donations greatly appreciated) it was well worth visiting. My overall impression of the building was good, Edwardian Baroque architecture, and the range of things to see was pretty impressive, it seems to be able to cater for all tastes, from young to old, so even if you are only interested in Eastern art or dinosaurs its worth checking out.
I visited this museum in the Summer for the Bansky vs. Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery exhibition.
My parents live nearby and we went on a day trip to see it.
The queue looked pretty long but it was a sunny day and we were happy to wait. It wasn't too long of a wait and we were quickly and efficiently moved into the main exhibition.
Banksy had taken over the main atrium and also a long side room. There were also various Banksy's 'hidden' amongst the rest of the collection.
The building is very striking and a great example of Edwardian Baroque architecture.
The Banksy exhibit meant we walked around quite a bit of the museum and they have a wide collection of local ceramics, art works and other interesting items.
The building is fairly easy to navigate, and there were some very good interpretative panels for the various works.
There were some smaller temporary exhibitions as well and this museum clearly has a lively curatorial staff who enjoy putting on current exhibits.
There was a small shop which had the usual books, postcards and gifts and there was also a cafe.
I enjoyed my visit to this Art Gallery and Museum and I think as a free entry place it is a valuable asset to Bristol. I can see a lot of families enjoying this as a place to spend some time together.
Well today I've been to see this summer's hot art exhibition ticket - Banksy vs The Bristol Museum. I've been living in Bristol for 7 years now, and I've been to the museum a couple of times for corporate functions, but I've never been round the whole museum. The Banksy exhibition is extremely popular, drawing people to the city from all over the world. My Mum lives in London and she decided to take a day trip to Bristol to visit the exhibition, so I booked a day off work to join her.
The queue has been a talking point in the local press, and I've driven passed it a few times and it looked pretty long! However, a few of my friends and colleagues had already visited the exhibition and no-one had queued for more than an hour, so I expected it to be relatively quick moving. Despite this, I thought going on a weekday would be a lot better then going at the weekend. We joined the queue at midday. And we waited and waited. Finally we were allowed in at 2pm. The two hour wait was actually quicker than the helpful signs placed alongside the queue had stated - we expected to wait for about 3 hours! Therefore, if you're planning to go, do expect to wait for a long time. Also, take a brolly, as the queue is out in the open and quite exposed.
We joked we should have brought my Dad along as he usually uses a wheelchair, so we thought we could have jumped the queue. However, I then noticed some wheelchair users waiting patiently some way behind us, so there is obviously no queue jumping no matter what disability you may have. I would recommend joining the queue as early as possible (the museum opens at 10 am) to minimise waiting time.
---The Main Exhibition---
When you enter the museum, the main entrance atrium contains a number of Banksy's works, including various sculptures, and an ice cream van art work which is where the main reception desk is. Still queuing, you pass through this space, along a corridor (where you can jump out of the queue for a moment to use the loo or visit the shop) and into the second main atrium of the museum. Whilst in the corridor, don't miss the Banksy artwork on the wall with a Michael Jackson theme!
The second atrium is given over to Banksy works, designed to be like exhibits in a zoo, but with a Banksy themed twist! From this atrium, you pass into the main exhibition space where a number of Banksy's most famous works on canvas are hanging, such as Parliament, which was great to see in the flesh. There was also a mock-up of Banksy's studio. As ever, Banksy's works are very thought provoking and make social comment on various aspects of modern life.
Once you have passed through these main areas the number of people thins out and you are free to explore the rest of the museum at your own leisure.
---The Rest of the Museum---
Unlike many other exhibitions, Banksy has completely taken over the whole museum. Therefore, once you've been marshalled through the main exhibition spaces, you should go on hunt around the whole museum looking for 'hidden' Banksy's.
There are works of art with a Banksy themed twist, such as the Madonna and Child listening to their i-pod, Venus recovering from a nose job and a peasant worker who has stepped out of the painting to have a fag break! All the Banksy works of art on canvas are credited to a 'Local Artist' so you know it's a Banksy. These art works are excellent, the highlight of the show, and demonstrate what a fantastic artist Banksy is, technically in addition to this street art works.
Banksys' are hidden everywhere, such as the display of stalagmite and stalactites in the geology section, which have dildos hidden amongst them. There is a traditional Gypsy caravan with an eviction notice and wheel clamp slapped on it, a lamb with a gas mask in the stuffed animal section, and a model of a middle eastern village with minature soldiers and terrorists strategically placed on roof tops.
This was an excellent exhibition, which has brought thousands of people to see a provincial art gallery and museum and really given a boost to Bristol's economy this summer. I really enjoyed it and would urge anyone who is interested in this type of thought provoking art to give it a go.
Some of the art work is quite risque, but may well go over the heads of children, or just make them giggle - there were certainly plenty of children with their parents and lots of teenagers there. And of course, the whole thing is free!
Obviously, the queue is the downside to this exhibition, and I would expect that as the school holidays have just started, this is bound to get worse rather than better. I was very glad I went during the week and took a day off work to do so.
It's quite good fun hunting for Bansky's all around the museum, and it ensures that you visit every single inch of the museum. However, this is also a downside. You end up giving a cursory glance to most exhibits which are fascinating in their own right, purely to find the next elusive Banksy hidden away in an obscure display case. Therefore, you miss many of the museum's own gems. Also, there are rather a lot of stairs to in the museum and it is quite sprawling. Therefore, having spent over two hours queuing up, it is very tiring by the end!
There was no catalogue or guide on sale, so you couldn't check if you'd missed any Banksy's. The gift shop was smallish and the choice of Banksy-related products was limited to some books and about 5 prints. This was quite poor, as we were hungry to spend our money on mementos of the day.
I don't want to criticise the organisers too much, as they have brought a wonderful exhibition to the city for free. However, I don't think they can quite cope with the amount of people coming. The opening hours are from 10am to 5pm. This is crazy! Many popular gallerys in London open until 7 or 8pm every night, opening until 10pm for more popular exhibitions. The Bristol museum should certainly think of doing this, as they will be completely overwhelmed as the exhibition nears the end of its run (at the end of August). I overheard two members of staff saying that today was the busiest day so far, and that there were a number of people in the queue who would not be expected to get into to exhibition. They were expecting arguments and punch ups! Last entry is at 4.30, which gives nowhere near enough time to explore the whole museum. I would hope that they extend the opening hours in August.
I would also advise, that whilst there is some degree of accessibility for disabled people, it is not great. The disabled lift access to the main atrium was out of order today, and there are a lot of stairs. Anyone with mobility problems or with a push chair would probably be able to view the main exhibition, but not all the extras dotted around the gallery. Had my Dad joined us today, he would have had to get out of his chair to walk at certain points, or be carried up stairs and would certainly have not been able to get to the upper galleries. Obviously this is due to the design of the Edwardian Grade II Listed Building and not the fault of the organisers (apart from the lift being out of order), but it is worth noting if you are disabled and considering a visit.
All in all, this is a great exhibition, and fantastic value for money, being free. Even with parking and each donating to the museum we spend less than £15 between us which was well worth it!
However, beware of the queue! Come prepared, with sensible shoes, brollys, and get there early or be prepared to wait for a long time! Despite this grumble, do visit the whole museum, as the works of art by the Local Artist are the best parts of the exhibition.
Well worth a look at, especially if you are Bristolian or if you appreciate thought provoking art work.
I'll admit that I don't go to Bristol City Museum all that much, odd really considering how close it is. It isn't that I'm not interested in what they've got to show in there, the main thing is that what is there never seems to change.
When I was at school this was the place we went to the most often when it came to day trips. For some reason we had to pay £5, yet the actual entry fee was free then and is still free now.
The outside of the building isn't all that subtle. It's got an Edwardian facade (yes I do know what that means!) and is based in Clifton. So it's only a stone throw away from the Bristol Centre.
The museum has several different sections -natural history, archaeology from different walks of life, an art gallery, an Egyptology gallery (contains real mummies!) It also contains many prehistoric and roman artifacts.
All of this however, wasn't the main reason why I happened to find myself there on Monday. You might have heard of a new exhibition, showing art by a certain chap with a hidden indentity under the name of Banksy.
There's still I think another 2 months before it finishes so you've got plenty of time to have a look. The whole of the museum has been taken over by his work including the reception desk in the centre of the building, which is now an ice cream van.
All told there are well over 100 of his designs, ranging from a lady smoking on a photo frame, well known portraits having moustaches or listening to ipods on them or spaceships flying above an island of pirates to models of fishfingers in gold fish bowls and chicken nuggets dipping their 'heads' into small ketchup pots.
On the upper levels where the original artifacts are, you can see that some of Banksys work is there as well. So not everything has been cleared away. Just meerly pushed aside for a bit.
It took me a good 25 minutes to get in as there are some people waiting outside only letting a certain amount of us in at one time. I think it would be a massive struggle to let us all in at the same time, far too many for the staff to cope with. However I'm certain that the numbers will dim down a bit at the weeks go by.
An exhibition of this size doesn't usually make its way to Bristol very often so for anybody living here I would suggest that you make the most of it. Won't last for ever.
Like I said the other works are still here and I'm sure that when all the hype has died down you'll be able to see the museum back to normal. With all the right amounts of history which you could be interested.
Even without this Banksy stuff going on, the museum is a nice place to go and see if you've got a spare day. Afterwards you could even treat yourself to a bit of shopping as it's right near Park Street.
Having recently visited Portsmouth City Museum and Art Gallery, I was interested to see how its counterpart in Bristol compared. I expected that perhaps it would be a grander affair, and I was right. Whereas Portsmouth concentrates mainly on local history and art, Bristol, whilst giving prominence to local artists and exhibits, has world-class displays in its galleries.
The museum is housed in an imposing three-storey Edwardian building; the stairs are not steep and there is a lift to certain areas on the upper floors, but you do have to call an attendant to operate the lift. How easy it is to do this I do not know. However, if you are at all interested in Ancient Egypt you are in for a treat, as there is a new display on the ground floor. This is where we started our visit.
The Egyptian exhibits here are based on the themes of life, death and the afterlife. Everything is behind glass, unsurprisingly considering the age of these artefacts. Even after more than twenty years of living in Egypt, I can still marvel at tiny amulets that look almost as if they were made yesterday, the mummy of a woman, or examples of hieroglyphics and other writing on a fragment of papyrus or a piece of stone. Touch screens placed low enough for children who can read allow visitors to access information on the individual items in each case. As well as the themes of life and death, attention is drawn to the way the Egyptians worked with different materials such as wood (as in the case for the mummy) and stone.
Moving further down this gallery, there are some fine examples of Assyrian reliefs. These are finely executed, but personally they didn't thrill me in quite the way that the Egyptian exhibits did.
At the top of the stairs leading to second floor is a gypsy caravan; turning left, we found ourselves in the Oriental gallery where Chinese dragons are to be seen wherever you look. There is even a tee-shirt from Tammy Girl decorated with a dragon. It was interesting that although this gallery was one of the quieter ones, there were two children sitting drawing whilst their parents looked around. Emerging from the dragon room, you find yourself admiring one of the best collections of Chinese glass outside Asia.
From Oriental art you proceed to British art. The first gallery is devoted to a collection of beautiful silver artefacts amid paintings of Bristol as it was over two hundred years ago. Realising that we did not have time to see everything in one visit, we passed fairly quickly through this room; I really must go back one day to admire the silver. We made a beeline for the more modern exhibits such as the paintings of the St Ives group. Barbara Hepworth is represented here by a painting rather than a sculpture, alongside Ben Nicholson in Gallery 5. I was also particularly interested to find Bristol-born Richard Long's Delabole Slate Circle, acquired from Tate Modern in 1997. Long was a great influence of mine in my students days, as was Tom Phillips, one of whose paintings I was delighted to find here.
If you are not a fan of modern art, you might prefer the work of the Pre-Raphaelites in Gallery 6 where both Millais and Burne-Jones are represented amongst others. There are a few examples of Impressionist paintings in the European room, notably by Renoir, Sisley and Lucien Pissaro. Beyond the French gallery is a display of pottery and ceramics, but this was another room that I had to leave for a future visit.
Going back down to the first floor we were greeted by a fibreglass replica of a dinosaur as well as a huge dinosaur leg skeleton. This area was obviously one of the most popular ones for children, so we decided to leave them to it as they greatly outnumbered us.
The display of minerals was one we spent more time on. Although there are exquisite pieces from all over the world, perhaps my favourite was a slice of Blue John from Derbyshire. It's true that this mineral holds a special place in my heart because I spent some wonderful holidays in the Peak District during my childhood, but I loved the colours in this example, which ranged from orange through to purple. My son prefered the pyrophyllite with its fascinating geometrical forms.
Minerals were followed by fossils, including some that were unearthed during the building of the Great Western Railway. Then came the wildlife area, but we decided to give it a miss as it looked to be swarming with children and must be one of the most popular sections of the museum. Many of the exhibits there focus on rare, endangered or extinct species of wildlife. British wildlife can be seen on the ground floor.
Descending the staircase to the ground floor once again, we walked past the shop without taking a look, as I don't usually buy souvenirs from museums. We noticed an enclosed area for temporary exhibitions where paintings were waiting to be hung. There is a cafe in an open area on the ground floor which seemed to be frequented mostly by families with young children who probably needed a break from all the excitement of dinosaurs and gorillas. Organic and fair trade food and drinks are served here. The cafe, as well as the toilets, are due for refurbishment during the course of 2008.
As we were leaving I suddenly noticed a huge biplane suspended from the lofty ceiling above the entrance hall - despite its size, neither of us had looked up and spotted it on our way in.
Certain areas of the museum are great attractions for children, and there were plenty around on the grey Saturday afternoon when we visited. There is even a play area called Small World for the under-fives on the ground floor. The museum would be an excellent choice for a family outing, whether your children are into dinosaurs, wild animals or mummies. As for adults, I'm sure everyone will find a display here that fascinates them. Since it's free, there is nothing to lose by paying a visit.
Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery
Tel. 0117 922 4749
Open Daily, 10am-5pm (hours may change in 2009)
Lifts to some floors; space to leave buggies in front hall; baby-change; toilets' wheelchairs; highchairs available in cafe.
Car parks are situated five minutes' walk from the museum in either West End or Trenchard Street. On foot, the museum is ten minutes from the city centre and twenty-five minutes from Bristol Temple Meads railway station.
My other half has been on holiday this week, combine that with our 4th anniversary, Mothers day and an in-service day at my sons school it was the perfect opportunity for some good old family fun, among the day trips we took was a visit to Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery. It's a great attraction for us living in Bristol and with free entry it's perfect for our ever expanding family as it doesn't break the bank. Getting to the museum is simple enough for us, as we're local, but the parking is a real problem, being situated in the middle of busy Queens Road, at the top of Park Street, in Clifton, it is near impossible to find a space nearby and we always park in the Frogmore street NCP and walk the 5 minute trip up the road, past the university buildings and into the museum. Bristol City Museum & Art gallery is set in a beautiful baroque Edwardian building, a grade 2 listed building, it seems somewhat out of place surrounded by modern shops, café's and office buildings but this only enhances its beauty and makes the building not only the home of the exhibits but an exhibit in itself. The museum is one of the few to be awarded "Designated" status by the government, which is designed to protect outstanding museums.
There are 2 entrances to the museum with the main doorway being up the top of the marble steps at the front of the building, however for wheelchair users and the infirm there is a side entrance complete with automatic doors and a lift which takes you the short journey to the museums spectacular main foyer, we tend to use this entrance, not because we're disabled or infirm but because it is a far easier way to get in the building with a toddler in a buggy and a half crazed 3 year old who's done nothing but pester you about the dinosaurs for the entire journey. First time visitors may become slightly confused to begin with as there are no real indications as to entry fee, there is a help desk in the main foyer but the staff are always happily carrying on with their work and paying the visitors no attention unless required, so it's easy to stand around for 5 minutes questioning where to pay and how much, however once you finally realise that it's a free attraction you can quickly scuttle off to the nearest exhibit room and pretend you knew you didn't have to pay all along.
The first exhibit we enter is always the British Birds and Mammals room, for no other reason then it's the closest room to us as we enter the building, it showcases examples of regional birds, fish and mammals (these for the most part are stuffed animals of the taxidermy kind!) as well as having a small selection of actual living freshwater fish and a fascinating 3d map of the region with all the major points highlighted, surrounding the glass covered sculpture is a selection of buttons which when pressed light up a small LED bulb on the map indicating the areas location this map includes such things as the Avon & Cheddar gorges as well as other major landmarks. It's an interesting look into our local wildlife but the main interest point of the room is for Christopher who loves the 3 small aquarium tanks and also the light up map. Push buttons and flashing bulbs are an almost certain attraction for toddlers but we do try to encourage him to learn a little while we're there by pointing out the different animal species, it certainly seems to work for Elsa who now knows what an owl is and what noise it makes.
Once our tour of the first, relatively small room, is complete we usually make our way down the foyer and into the touring attractions exhibit, this varies from year to year, month to month. Previously it has featured art, textile and photography exhibits but on our trip the room was dedicated to "love" and featured a collection by the National Gallery Partnership, a series of amazing artworks by the likes of Raphael, Vermeer, Goya and Turner as well as some sculpture and poetry all in the theme of Love. This is quite a restricted room, the artworks are barriered off and only groups of up to ten people can enter at one time, naturally due to the status of the work contained within, this is also the most heavily staffed room to not only make sure you behave yourself with the priceless works but also tell you about the pieces. It was wonderful seeing famous works of art by such legendary names and my favourite had to be by Raphael which was a lovely mother and child piece I had studied during my A-levels, another that I've always loved but now had become part of the "love" exhibit is a permanent fixture of the museum and is "La belle dame sans merci" by Sir Frank Dicksee, a wonderfully romantic depiction of a maiden on horseback bending to kiss her armour clad love. Just outside of the touring exhibit room is yet another part of the "love" display and is a conceptual art piece set up by Yoko Ono, a series of canvasses for the public to write messages, poems and declarations of love as well as draw their own images or apply photo's to, both Dave and I added our own work to this art piece, messages of love and even a picture of our 2 wonderful children that I pilfered from my purse, it was lovely to become a little part of history in that way and sweet to read all the other messages, I was pleasantly surprised how many family orientated messages there were (considering Bristol is fast becoming Chav-tastic)
Usually our visit would see us cross the foyer and enter the archaeology gallery, home to ancient artefacts discovered locally including glassware and pottery. This room is currently under development so we couldn't visit it this time round, in the past though it had included a stunning array of items including wonderful examples of roman glass, beautifully crafted and highly detailed. The room also featured one of the many children friendly areas which included the chance to design your own mosaics using magnetic tiles, I hope that when the room is finished it will still maintain these interactive features as it always makes the visit that much more fun for the little ones.
Next always comes my favourite exhibit and the main reason I insist on regular visits, it's the newly developed Egyptian gallery. Featuring stunning ancient Egyptian artefacts including sculptures, items of religious, royal and day to day Egyptian life, sarcophagi and even mummies. The new exhibit features touch screen displays which can tell you the very tiniest detail on a particular item including it's age, it's meaning, where it's from, who donated it to the museum........a level of detail never before possible on small display plaques. You are led through the stages of Egyptian life right through until death, every stage sympathetically laid out. One fascinating display is simply based on photographs of an ancient mummy, once a display artefact it was discovered to be rotting away and so the decision had to be taken whether to unwrap it, preserve it or let it take natures course, the display gives you the choice to choose what happens to the mummy by selecting one of three buttons, each will then show you the consequence of your choice and what was discovered along the process, the events are actual accounts of what happened to the mummy and it is amazing seeing the processes unfold in a fascinating but sensitive way. What I find quite touching in a way about the new design of the exhibit is a new found respect for the life that the mummies once had, one exhibit of a skeletal mummy was once on open display for all to stumble upon, this is now in a high tech display which is blacked out, on approaching the display a screen will inform you of the contents and remind you that this once was a living being and should be viewed with respect, you are then given the choice to view the display or not which requires you to simultaneously cover 2 lit up areas on the display, if you do choose to view the exhibit a subtle light illuminates the case and reveals the body within. Other displays in this gallery include a large screen playing footage of a view from a hot air balloon trip over an archaeological expedition from years ago.
Finally dragged away from my favourite exhibit and we ascend to the next floor, up the sprawling marble steps to the Sea Monsters exhibit, a small balcony area featuring cases of fossilised prehistoric sea creatures, these include a plesiosaur skull and a sad but sweet fossil of one sea creature which even has a little fossilised baby in it's womb. This is one of those "dinosaur" areas that Christopher loves, the display cases are immense yet these were small examples of the creatures. The theme of fossils and the prehistoric carries on up to the next floor and the small dinosaur gallery which features a full sized cast of a Plateosaur (otherwise described by Christopher as a Tyrannosaurus, he's no palaeontologist!) the skeletal remains of a Moa (an extinct giant bird native to New Zealand) the cast of a Brontosaurus leg which stretches from floor to ceiling and a few other displays, you can really get a feel for the sheer size of the beasts, it's quite incredible. This exhibit features another of the interactive areas for children which includes a computer where you can bring up images and information about dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures, a child sized desk area with dinosaur related books and figures and art sheets and crayons for the kids to design their own fossils and dino's, we love stopping off at these areas and this is Christopher's favourite, he likes to try and draw the dinosaurs but isn't quite past the doodling circles stage yet, still you can see it fires his imagination and he's always reluctant to leave this area.
Our journey through the museum usually varies from here, sometimes we'll walk the balcony area surrounding the building looking at the artworks on the walls, taking in the displays and information and admiring the stunning architecture, it's quite a narrow area though and combining my paranoia over heights and my recent dizzy spells we decided on this trip to skip this section and move on to the next galleries. We also bi-passed the collection of antique pianos that runs adjacent to the World Wildlife gallery, if you love and appreciate such instruments and their craft then it is a fascinating display but I prefer not to let my little ones near the items for fear they might damage them in some way. Instead it's onto the Wildlife gallery which features more taxidermy, not perhaps the best of museums if you're a little faint hearted, many examples of wild animals including a tiger, hyena, young okapi & giraffe, chimpanzee, baboon......this gallery also features Alfred the gorilla who once held fame as a resident of Bristol Zoo, alongside examples of endangered and extinct creatures including a Quagga (a form of zebra) There are also many examples of British wildlife including birds, butterflies and even badgers. I find this gallery both disturbing due to the fact that these were once living creatures but also fascinating, reading the information on the animals and their habitats, seeing up close what they really look like and how big some of them truly are, I never realised how large a hyena was for example and it is having galleries like this that educate adults, as well as children, not only about the wildlife of our world but also how we need to care for it properly to avoid future extinctions. More interactive children's areas feature here giving you more chances to draw, read and use the computer, there's hands on displays of shells and a puzzle style map which plays animal calls when you remove the pieces, there's even a wildlife board game and dice for the kids, you also have the chance to vote for your favourite gallery theme and add your information to a book detailing what you love about the museum and why, a great way for the museum to keep in touch with what it's patrons want. Also on this floor is the geology gallery which features stunning examples of natural minerals & fossils, as well as the skeleton of an extinct and huge deer like creature the Irish elk and a fossilised ammonite which is laid out for the public to touch and feel.
The top floor houses exhibits of Eastern art, silverware, glassware and ceramics as well as art galleries featuring works by Old Masters, French School, British Collection, Modern Art and the Bristol School artists. Once again the hands on experience continues with the chance for children to do crayon rubbings of Chinese carvings on wood and discover different aspects of eastern history and culture, which even mentions Pokemon of all things! While not one of our favourite areas these galleries feature a wide range of exhibits and examples of their items, my parents have a fondness for silver items for and so they make a special visit to view the wonderful silver on display, someone with a passion for ceramics will certainly appreciate the cases of fine porcelain.
The museum is overflowing with exhibits, not just in the main galleries but dotted around the whole site, there are sculptures, carvings, paintings, poems..............you really have to keep your eyes peeled and don't forget to look up.
Other then the galleries you will also come across the gift shop, selling a wide range of mementos, including toys, books, postcards, collectables and a range of branded souvenirs. It is well laid out and easy to get around, the staff are always friendly and the prices quite reasonable depending on your tastes, we purchased a toy dinosaur for Christopher for £1 but the more extravagant visitor might want to take home a print for £15 or even a piece of Bristol blue glass. There is also the museum café at the back of the building, tucked away almost out of sight, it sells hot meals as well as snacks and drinks the quality of food there admittedly could be better, certainly for the price, a sandwich pack for the kids, snack and drinks for me and hubby cost in the region of £12, the menu changes regularly but there are always lots of options available including vegetarian, personally I'd recommend saving your money and visiting one of the many surrounding café's in Clifton and believe me the choice is endless. Still it is a pleasant enough place to sit and eat, it's generally clean and well staffed, the tables are laid out to give the diners ample space and high chairs are provided. There's also a small play area for 0-5's which provides sensory experiences, toys, games and books for young children, the parents can watch from outside the area or sit inside with their children, it is not a crèche facility however and you must mind your own child.
The building is disabled friendly to a degree, the initial entry lift shows a lot of promise but due to the nature of the building and it's age the disabled facilities within are quite few and far between, there is a lift on the ground floor near the touring exhibit room which takes you up to the next floor, you need to call a member of staff to operate this lift and it has no access to the higher levels of the museum meaning the only option is the stairs, which there are quite a lot of, some of the exhibits are quite winding in their lay out, once again not very wheelchair friendly. There is a wheelchair accessible toilet on the ground floor, along with a baby changing unit and male and female toilets, these are the only toilets available though so you'll need to be good at holding "it" if nature decides to call on the upper gallery. The facilities themselves are tidy and clean but quite basic and show their age. There is also a loop system available for the hearing impaired which is collected from the main desk. A few lockers are available on the ground floor and are suitable for many forms of buggy, you can also leave unattended buggies in the main foyer where they are watched over by staff (valuables left at your own risk) this is due to the sheer volume of steps and narrow walkways within the building.
Despite the closed exhibit and the aging facilities of the museum we enjoyed our visit, we always do, there is so much variety, so much to see and do that each and every trip is different. It's fun for the kids while being educational, you get a certain kick as a parent watching your young child playing and enjoying themselves in such an educational environment, you know they'll be picking up little nuggets of information, they'll remember things from one trip and bring them up on the next, for example Christopher was able to tell me exactly where we were going and what we would see from where we parked the car, we'd not even got into the building! The museum caters perfectly for the youngsters with all their hands on activities and the small play area for the 0-5's, they're already gaining a whole new generation of visitors that will one day return to the museum having remembered the fun they had on their childhood visits.
As for the adults, well there's just as much to see, just as much to learn as there is for the kids, you really do spot something new on each visit, even if it's just by standing a little longer by a certain painting or making the effort to read the information about a particular sculpture and if the improvements to the Egyptian gallery are anything to go by the overall experience only stands to get better, if each gallery sees the same care and the same level of technology used in the new exhibit then there will be a never ending wealth of information the museum can deliver. There is a fair amount of walking involved in a trip around this museum and a substantial amount of steps to different levels but there is so much happening around you all the time that you barely notice this. Team the fantastic array of exhibits with the spectacular building it's set in and you have a perfect combination for a cultured day out, you can spend as much or as little time in there as you desire knowing you can return at any time to start the whole journey anew. My family love visiting the museum and will continue to do so in the years to come, I highly recommend a visit if you're in the area.
The Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery is open 7 days a week (not including Christmas) 10am to 5pm and entry is free to everybody. There are collection boxes by the main entrance if you care to make a donation for the upkeep of the museum.
Group visits and school trips can be arranged in advance.
You can contact them on-
Tel: 0117 922 3571
Fax: 0117 922 2047
Minicom: 0117 922 3573
Bristol's City Museum & Art Gallery,
For more on the upcoming exhibitions visit-
http://www.bristol.gov.uk/ccm/ content/ Leisure-Culture/ Museums-Galleries/ Exhibitions-in-2007.en
Visit http://www.aboutbritain.com/BristolCityMuseum.htm for infomation on nearby attractions and places to stay, or http://www.bristol.gov.uk/ ccm/ content/Leisure-Culture/ Museums-Galleries/ bristols-city-museum--- art-gallery.en for more on the museum, a car park finder and travel guide.
Review also on Ciao (piggypine)
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